US Coast Survey Patterson Camp Inscription Vandalism (1873)

Inside a cave in the Santa Ynez Mountains on the Gaviota Coast somebody carved an inscription memorializing the United States Coast Survey of 1873.

The name is apparently in reference to Carlile P. Patterson, the Hydrographic Inspector for the USCS at that time.

The wall of the cave with what is apparently an historic inscription is increasingly being covered in graffiti, some of which has recently been scratched right over the old marking itself.

It seems this cave may go the way of other more easily accessed caves in the area, which I have watched over the years become filled with names and initials and dates and whatever else. Bare stone not too long ago is now covered in graffiti, some of it carved deeply into the surface.

I wonder if this inscription from 1873 will be covered over and scratched up and carved out of existence not long from now.

One can only expect a sign to accomplish so much, which might be little, but at this site there is nothing to note the significance of the inscription or to politely plead for restraint for sake of preservation.

Of course, it wouldn’t be long, probably, before the sign was annihilated in some manner in a fit of misplaced emotion and energy. I’d return to find vestiges of its corpse strewn about the kill site and a hole in the ground from whence it had been ripped with causeless fury. You know how these things work out there in Humanityville.

But then again, maybe, just maybe, some of these people with shallow thoughts and twitchy hands would be just a tad less likely to carve up the old inscription if’n they only knew about it.

Inside the cave, the historic inscription center frame amid a growing tangle of names, initials and other vandalism. The “Jack” written there in the upper right is not me.

What appears to read “i Patterson Camp U.S.C.S. 1873.”

In the latter half of the nineteenth century the Santa Barbara Channel environs had yet to be properly charted.

Maps of the time were not accurate, locations misleading. The US Coast Survey corrected the matter.

An image taken from the original 1873 Coast Survey annual report showing the triangulation network between points on the Channel Islands and the mainland coast from Santa Barbara to Point Conception, with Gaviota clearly having been a major station. Click for a larger view. (Hat tip Sam Green)

Cropped view of previous image showing Gaviota Peak station.

Reportage from the 1873 document mentioning Santa Barbara and Gaviota:

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3 Responses to US Coast Survey Patterson Camp Inscription Vandalism (1873)

  1. Unfortunately most likely the people with shallow thoughts and twitchy hands are probably only reading whats on instagram or snapchat with maybe some Youtube mixed in.

  2. Frank Hudson says:

    Don’t know if this is the same spot on the Trespass Trail, but too bad.

  3. Kate McKenzie says:

    Thanks John. Interesting article and reminds me of why the cave on Painted Cave Road has a grill across the entrance, or did when I lived around there anyway. Oh and my facebook account is all bogus info. (June birthday!)…I wanted to be anonymous when I created it years ago and they haven’t caught up w/me yet. I hope you enjoy your cool weather up north. It has been around 100 here which seems hot and it will get hotter all summer. Take care. love, Kate

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